Why the iPad is not "insanely great"

Discussion in 'iPad' started by davelo, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. davelo macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2009
    Pretty much every review of the iPad I've read on a site that would normally be considered read-worthy, has concluded it's "underwhelming" or worse:


    but the handwavers and other True Believers (inevitably including Stephen Fry) still insist that it's not for technical people, who aren't *capable* of getting it, that it's The Next Big Thing, the Game Changer, the Moses Tablet to the Jesus Phone (I kid you not). I seem to remember such people also selling the Emperor some particularly fine new clothes a while back.

    So here's a non-technical appraisal of why I don't think the iPad is "insanely great". This doesn't mean I don't think it has applications, or that it's going to bomb (say like the Cube or the Apple Stereo), just that it may end up closer to the Apple TV than the iPhone/iPod Touch (which for shorthand I'll refer to below as "iPT"). Here goes:

    There are two fundamentally different ways of using a computer.

    In Mode 1, you're principally interested in getting stuff OUT of it — "kiosk mode" functions from using a web browser to pressing the buttons on a coffee machine, although you may do a little organising, like setting up playlists.

    In Mode 1, POINTING (plus a few less frequently used gestures) is the ultimate interface. It's what you'd do even if there wasn't a computer: point at the item you want on the shelf. Clicking links is Mode 1.

    Mousing was only ever second rate pointing, because we didn't have touch screens, and track pads were only third rate pointing when we didn't have a mouse.

    So by returning us to full-on pointing with the finger, the iPT offers pretty much the ultimate Mode 1 interface, with no intermediate steps or abstractions. That it also solved the problem of palmhelds not having enough space for both screen and buttons, because the screen displays the buttons when needed, was a huge bonus.

    Hence the iPT is a knock-it-out-of the park winner, to the extent that people use the iPhone version even in areas where voice reception is poor compared to other models!

    However, the iPad ventures into Mode 2 territory.

    In Mode 2, you're more, or even principally, interested in putting stuff INTO the computer — all forms of data entry from note-taking and email through graphic work to full-on programming. Writing this article is Mode 2.

    In Mode 2, WRITING (or DRAWING) is historically the ultimate interface. Typewriters were only ever second rate writing, and the adoption of the provably inefficient QWERTY keyboard layout makes them third rate. Even though better layouts exist, and better ones still might be invented using e.g., keys that change function on context, no-one would adopt while they have devices hardwired to the existing standard, and much muscle memory invested, it's not worth the trouble.

    So to make an "insanely great" Mode 2 device, you have to bypass the QWERTY keyboard, and restore the ultimate interface, handwriting (or something even better, but pen/stylus-based, which conveniently reduces to Mode 1 when necessary) But the iPad doesn't, and isn't likely to in any future revision unless The Great Leader undergoes a Damascene conversion.

    In other words, my take is that without handwriting input, the iPad IS just a bigger iPT. Now there are plenty of uses for a bigger iPT — e.g., medics reading patients' notes — but without written input, those same medics are still going to read the updates into their voice recorders and hand them to their secretaries to type; THE GAME WILL NOT CHANGE.

    The iPT eliminates the standard indirect interfaces for Mode 1 tasks, so is a better answer than its competitors; the iPad does not eliminate the equivalent indirections for Mode 2, so isn't.

    It follows that the best uses for an iPad will be Mode 1 tasks for which the iPT screen is genuinely not big enough, rather than genuine Mode 2 tasks, for which a netbook or laptop form factor (albeit maybe with a cleaner OS than Windoze or Linux) will still win out. That's still a lot of niche applications (I have one myself, but not one I'd pay $500 for…) and likely a successful or at least profitable product, but NOT The Next Big Thing…
  2. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    BFD. The thing's not even out yet, the content deals not even cut, and people keep wanting to mentally masturbate in public here on MR about why the thing won't work.

    Why don't you just button it until the thing has hit the market? Then you can "express your opinion" about it all you want, and not run the risk of looking like an idiot if the iPad concept works?
  3. TraceyS/FL macrumors 68040

    Jan 11, 2007
    North Central Florida
    Well, this App works pretty well..... i imagine there will be a plethora of options that will work.

    As nice as having it built-in? Probably not... but time will tell.

    The simple fact is - everyone needs to evaluate their own needs, and see if it will work for them. It works about perfect here as is, and i know the apps we need will be forthcoming.
  4. marksman macrumors 603


    Jun 4, 2007
    How are they reviewing it.

    At best everyone got a few minutes to play around with it, and most of those reviews were pretty positive.

    It is not possible anyone did a thorough review on them because the product is not out... so I don't understand the point of this thread.
  5. Fubar65 macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2008
    This thing is over a month and a half out still, there is no way anyone could have a review of it yet. On a second note, how do you know the ipad won't be good for taking notes, etc. Have you used it? Have you tried typing with it and taking notes with it? If you haven't, then what are you basing your opinions off of, someone's review? Just because you or someone else may not be able to take notes on the ipad proficiently doesn't mean someone else can't. Until you use the device, I suggest not posting opinions on its usability as it really holds no merit.
  6. EssentialParado macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2005
    You've split it into content consumption and content creation, saying it's great for the former, bad for the latter. Except you've made the mistake in assuming content creation comes primarily in the form of writing. What about music creation, video editing, graphic and design work, animation, 3D design, etc. — These things will, by far, be made better with a touchscreen interface. Maybe the iPad hardware isn't powerful enough to edit HD footage just yet, but give it a couple of generations and it'll probably become my primary machine for video work, music creation, and design.
  7. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    What? There are no reviews of iPad. There's opinions based on less than an hour of playing with the device at the Jan 27th event. We can not rely on any of the tech blogs because majority of them has been hyped up for months setting a high expectation for the iPad. So when they say "underwhelming" it is not because the iPad itself is underwhelming, but it is because compared to what they expected in THEIR MIND, it is underwhelming. Same goes to other people you listed who expects iPad to be the next big thing, they are just hyping up and setting expectations that are not possible.

    Secondly, your Mode 1/Mode 2 things doesn't explain why iPad is "not insanely great" because you can't assign those mode to iPad, Mode 1/2 are a preference for each person. iPad isn't a mode 2 device by default. Majority of applications are going to be Mode 1 type of operations. If you notice the iWork Suite for iPad demos at the event, Phil spent most of the time just moving things around, building animations and so on with his fingers. Those are hybrid mode 1/2 type of stuff, you're creating content with your fingers.

    BTW, there are names for your modes. Content consumption is your mode 1 and content creation is your mode 2. iPad will be great at content consumption, bigger screen makes it better than iPhone in consuming more data at same time. iPad will be great in some area for content creation such as Brushes application where you draw with your fingers, building presentations (which doesn't require a lot of text entry), diagramming, mind mapping and so on. It's not that great in text entry for long period of time, granted but it doesn't mean it is not a great device.

    People have different needs and for specific needs, iPad is insanely great for them and other needs it is not. There's no single device for everybody. Just because YOU think it's not insanely great, does not mean by default iPad itself is not insanely great. It just means it's not for your needs. I know you said that already, but your misleading thread title suggests otherwise.
  8. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    How does the ipad create music? do 3d design? video editing? etc....

    There are no inputs on the thing meaning you cant do much with it
  9. gr8ful macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2007
    I must disagree with the sentiment that the iPad is not a great device. I believe it is not aimed at a niche market and is not designed to replace your laptop. I believe it is designed to be the device that you will not hesitate to take everywhere: work, doctor's appt, morning mass-transit commute, airplane flights, road trips, etc.

    Consider this:
    Even though nearly half the computers sold today are laptops, how many people actually carry them around on a daily basis? Unless you are a student going to classes or your job requires it, most people leave their laptop at home while they are out and about.

    Of course we take it to an occasional meeting, when we go on vacation, or are planning an extended time at a coffee shop. But most buy laptops because they now allow you to do what you could on a desktop but with the ability to go portable when you choose - most just don't choose to carry it everyday.

    Why don't you take your laptop everywhere and basically treat it like a desktop? Weight - heavy to carry. Long start-up times. Size - need space to use it.

    The iPad is positioned as that take everywhere device whether or not you have a laptop. Light weight - no more difficult to carry than a book. Instant on access. Small - designed to be handheld, so easy to use in cramped spaces (car, train, plane, waiting room, etc).

    If you have both a desktop and a laptop then the iPad will likely be less appealing. But the majority of people I know only have one main computer, either a desktop or laptop. And the majority of laptop owners seldom carry it with them because of the reasons above.

    Most heavy content creation is done at home or work and the desktop and laptop is still the tool of choice. But all the time in between is where I will be using my iPad: browsing, email, video, music, light content creation/editing, social networking --- you get it.
  10. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    People leave their laptops at home because it takes effort to bring it

    The level of effort to bring a laptop is the same as bringing the ipad. Why? Because they each cant just slide in your pocket. You need to make a conscious decision to bring it. The iphone solved this, the ipad does not
  11. mrklaw macrumors 68020

    Jan 29, 2008
    you're entirely wrong in shoehorning the ipad into your so-called 'mode 2'.

    I consider the ipad a mode 1 device, and as you admit that the ipod touch 'knocks it out of the park', I expect the larger screen of the ipad to make it into orbit.
  12. fobfob macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2008
    Err, sorry. This isn't like a camera. Jobs hasn't put his iron fist over an existing technology and said "NO". The technology you are talking about is not available at the level of sophistication and necessary (ie. "it just works").

    Um, but if it did, someone could write an app for it. When that happens, according to your definition, the iPad will become a game changer, insanely great, and the Next Big Thing.

    You kind of proved the opposite of what you claim..
  13. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    No it isn't. iPad is like half the efforts of bringing a laptop. You don't need to worry about bringing a charger as it should last a day worth on a single charge and it'll last a month standby. You don't need a lot of space to work with (ex. subways, coffee shops, airport), it's practically like a book. Not too heavy and not too big.

    iPad isn't supposed to solve the issue of "fitting in your pocket" type of mobility. That's what smartphone are for. iPad are suppose to solve the area between the smartphones and laptops/desktops. There are people who don't own smartphones and only own desktops but would rather have something between. That's what it suppose to solve. For example, people with desktops in the house but want to have something in the living room, kitchen, balcony, backyard, garage, and so on. iPad fits their need there.
  14. hecxs macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2007
    Psychic iPad evaluations

    Couldn't agree with you more brother!;)
    How in the world can you talk trash (or praise) about something you haven't had in your hands! Also, putting the iPad into this market's perspective (correct me if I'm wrong), the only product Apple continues to sell at an accelerated pace is the iPod touch; the regular iPod's sales are decelerating since the end of last year. Meaning that they came up with the iPad to have another product to replace the iPod's initial success.

    Personally I think they will kick ass with the iPad. The machine looks beautiful; will have to test it and make my final decision. One feature of the iPad that I believe holds a lot of the weight of its success is the keyboard interface; how well could you type in that touch screen? How natural will it feel? Will our fingertips overlap the keys as happens occasionally with the iPhone? This will determine my decision to buy it or not...
  15. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    you still have to make the effort to bring it

    to me, bringing my camera is JUST as cumbersome as bringing my laptop as its another device i need to handle and manipulate

    The iphone is great as you put it in pocket and go

    The ipad will need to be carried and hence will be a hassle...just like a laptop
  16. hecxs macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2007
    Who wants to do that stuff anyway dude? Seriously.:confused::confused:
  17. appleseed76 macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2010
    Why the iPad will be successful despite all of the negative press.

    Dear Hardcore Computer Users and Techies (Of Which I Am One),

    The iPad was NOT made for us. It was made for my Mom and my Grandma, neither of which know a thing about computers. It was made for my neighbors' kids and my students who don't need, nor will ever fully utilize a laptop or desktop computer at this point in their lives. It's a controlled, simplistic portal to the internet bundled with numerous revenue-inducing services that the average person will eat up. This is why Apple is a multi-billion dollar company and will continue to be a multi-billion dollar company for years to come. They're targeting new markets whose surfaces have merely been scratched by their competitors (read: Amazon and the Kindle).

    Nintendo has done this exact same thing, much to the chagrin of the hardcore gaming crowd. Did you know that they've developed an enlarged DSi in Japan, called the DSi LL just for the elderly (soon to be released in the States as the DSi XL)? Are you aware of how many Baby Boomers there are in the US and how rapidly our population is aging as a result? How about the fact that 25% of our population is under the age of 18? These are huge untapped markets for Apple. Why do you think the iPad is being billed as a gaming machine?

    Basically this device, and other devices like it, will spread internet usage and services to insane new levels. Again my Grandma doesn't know the first thing about setting up a wireless modem, but if she bought the 3G enabled iPad she wouldn't have to.
  18. niuniu macrumors 68020


    Mar 29, 2009
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.

    Well I want one made for us. And imma have a good old whine until the day I get it :p
  19. hecxs macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2007
    I disagree. The laptop is heavy and it needs to be flipped opened to use; that's why people leave it behind most of the time. If apple manages to make the iPad light enough and slim enough (it looks like it qualifies in both of these), these two little parameters can turn out into huge sales. Also, you don't need to flip open the iPad to use; just slide your finger across the unlock icon like you do with the iPhone and you're ready to go. God is in the details buddy. Steve Jobs knows this. Get with the program.:apple::cool::D
  20. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
    Is the OP writing an essay on babbling.:eek: Too much, too long and about for the most point the unknown.
  21. hecxs macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2007
    Very clever post. You sound so freakin right. Your Grandma's the coolest old lady in the world if she wants to fool around with the iPad bro.

    Indulge my curiosity please; what do Hardcore Computer Users and Techies like yourself do? What would make someone like you be chopping at the bit to buy the iPad?
  22. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    You're still missing the point in two different posts that try to explain clearly.

    Let me put it another way, it's a hassle you don't want to put up with. You're not the market target for the iPad. There are far more people who's willing to put up the hassle for an iPad as they are not much more of a hassle than a book. A laptop is. People can choose to buy an iPod Touch with 3" screen or take a 10" screen device.
  23. hecxs macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2007
    What's "the OP" buddy?

    And yes, babbling or talking BS about something you have absolutely no clue about is fun. Join the party dude.:D:apple::D
  24. appleseed76 macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2010
    Ha, ha.

    I hear yah. I'd love to see the entire line of Mac computers go multi-touch, but it's going to take a whole lot of experimenting with these limited mobile devices before we see that happen.

    The inclusion of iWork for the iPad is a step in the right direction though. If this takes off with the mainstream crowd you can bet they'll make a pro version of the iPad before too long. Of course they may not want to separate it from its successful younger brother. This will be the same problem they have reselling application on the iPad since it's compatible with most iPhone apps. Needless to say it's going to be interesting.

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